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Life Health > Health Insurance

Economist: Bad PPACA exchanges cost users dearly

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An economist at Yale University has tried to estimate just how much access to a smoothly running public health insurance exchange is worth.

Amanda Kowalski compared smoothly running state-based Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchanges with glitch-plagued exchanges. She thinks the consumers who used the smoothly functioning exchanges ended up with an average of $750 more value each than consumers who used the glitch-plagued state-based exchanges.

Kowalski also compared five of the exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the state-based exchanges. She thinks the users of the state-based exchanges ended up with $245 more value each than consumers who used the state-based exchanges.

Kowalski came up with those numbers by feeding actual PPACA exchange enrollment and price data into a mathematical model developed earlier.

The model — a collection of equations — calculates the value of an exchange or other insurance marketing channel to the buyer partly by showing how much the marketing channel has reduced the insurers’ underwriting profit margins. The model also includes the value of the success an exchange or other channel has had at getting low-risk people to join the risk pool.

Kowalski published the paper behind a paywall on a website operated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

She notes that she did not try to measure whether the exchange users are better off or worse than they were before the public exchange system opened.

“Even in the states where I find that participants in the individual health insurance market were ‘worse off,’ the overall impact of the [PPACA] could be positive,” Kowalski writes.

See also: Prof studies individual health stickiness


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